Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Problem With Small Companies.....

Is that you know everyone.

In a larger company, say 100-300 souls, you have a little more anonymity. My current dilemma has to do with the complete lack of anonymity in small companies.

I'm just wrapping up a second stint with a very small company, six souls all told, myself included. I decided to leave the company for a variety of reasons but what upsets me so much was the reaction I received. It is as if I'm abandoning them, casting them out into the street, dooming them to starvation and ruin.

Do I feel a little guilty for leaving? Yeah, I know I played the owner during the interview, and neither of us handled things as well as we should have but at the end of the day I can't keep a job that does not pay my bills, especially when I have a $50,000 plus benefits offer in hand.

My current boss feels I should stick with him and the company, thinks I should stay in a job when I have my degree with nothing to look forward to other then eventually making $15 an hour with minimal health benefits that I have to pay 50% of cost for. It just bothers me.

I'd love to stay, I enjoy the work, it's hardly challenging but I enjoy it and my boss is a good guy but at the end of the day I need to make my money, establish myself, get my experience and my money. I have a wedding, bills, car repairs and a fiancee all that need paid for, taken care of, maintained and I just can't do that on my current wage, yet I still feel bad for leaving.

I guess I'm soft at heart. Oh well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake!!!

Yes, there is cake.

This past weekend the Missus and I finished our cake tasting. We tried three bakeries. the Geddes Bakery, the Purple Hippo bakery and the Patrician Snowflake bakery.

And the contestants for Cake Baker of the Wedding......

3) Geddes Bakery: Our first stop they came highly recommended from a good family friend. We visited them a few weeks ago, and they were decent. While not the best of the three the cake was solid, tasty, if a little dense. However what really soured me on Geddes is the fact that we were looking for a chocolate cake, and were only allowed to sample vanilla. We ended up buying a chocolate cupcake but still if were paying hundreds of dollars for a cake we shouldn't have to buy a cupcake to get the flavor we want.

2) Patrician Snowflake Bakery: One of the scariest places I have ever visited in my 24 years. Located on the edge of a very bad part of town with no visible storefront, half the windows are boarded over, the parking lot, if you can call it that is cracked and festooned with weeds, and the entrance is through a worn side door. However once inside the proprietor who spoke with us was warm, personable and quite helpful. We were offered samples of both the vanilla and chocolate cake with both butter cream and a sweetened whipped cream filling. Price wise they were on par with Geddes and simply had a better product.

The Winner....

1) Purple Hippo Bakery: I'm so glad we gave them a third chance. Our first encounter with them came off sour as it took them a week to return my phone call. Their second attempt soured when they canceled our appointment with just over an hours notice. However the third chance they aced. A free cup of coffee definitely helped to put me in a generous mood and having three cakes with three fillings and frosting's to try made them the most generous of the bakeries we visited. Our tasting was handled by one of their full time pastry chefs who was not only quite personable but very knowledgeable. Lastly they have a hazelnut chiffon cake that is simply divine. Once the Missus tried it, she decided she liked it and that was more or less then end of discussion. While she went back and forth for a day more I knew we had our bakery. Purple Hippo runs roughly a hundred dollars more then Geddes and Patrician but I feel it will be worth it.

I love cake.

Tough Question....

I have been thinking about applying for a concealed carry permit for months now. I've more or less decided to go ahead with it and am currently waiting for the funds. However I was talking to a friend of mine this past weekend and she asked me a tough, yet interesting, question.

Could I kill another human being?

If I decide to begin carrying, and I have a need for the weapon could I in fact kill someone. I knew my default reaction was to say "of course" yet I bit my tongue and actually thought about it.

I think I could. I understand that what I train in does enable me to do serious harm to another human being however I know that with my bare hands I can regulate the amount of force applied, do I want to pin, submit, choke? How long do I want to hold a choke? I can make these decisions and regulate the effects better in an unarmed situation.

I also know despite my training I'm not comfortable carrying a knife. I know I would be unable to stab someone if the need arose. So is a gun all that different?

I took a moment and reconsidered my desires for wanting to carry concealed. I want to be able to defend myself should the need arise, I distrust the police and do not wish to be wholly reliant on them for my protection. Lastly, I fear loosing the right without ever exercising it.

I feel I would be able to shoot if the need arose, yet the thought worries me. I plan on training, and hopefully competing to make sure I am as wholly comfortable with my chosen firearm. I plan on seeking out the advice of professionals in both what firearm I carry and how I carry, the holster, the position etc.

I hope all these measures will make me as comfortable and sure of myself as possible.

However, Until I have reached that level of comfort I think I would hesitate to carry concealed 24/7. Yet only time will tell.

So to answer the tough question, I think I could kill in self defense though I hope to never have to find out.

Friday, October 24, 2008

End of the Tunnel

In three weeks time, barring any earth shattering disasters, I will be done with my Bachelors. It's taken me just over six years and it has been anything but a straight and narrow path. I've taken the long way, or the very long way, depending on your perspective.

I've been striving towards this goal for six and a quarter years, through three schools. It's been hard on me but even harder on those around me. I am not the easiest person to deal with on a good day and these past six years have seen more then their share of bad days.

I just wanted to stop and take a moment to say thank you to my mother, father, friends and most importantly my Missus. Thank you all. I would not have made it through without you.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Illusions of Security

I have noticed a growing trend. A trend in which the illusion of security is much more important then actual security.

The Missus and I stopped over to Monroe County Social Services this morning to drop off some paperwork. In order to enter the building you had to go through a security checkpoint. However, the Rent-A-Cops who were manning the security check point were themselves unarmed! Now, lets look at this logically. If a person comes to MCSS with a weapon, and gets stopped by a Rent-A-Cop do you seriously think they are going to calmly hand over the weapon? Seriously? Anyone carrying a weapon legally probably isn't going to bring it with them into a county building. Those carrying a weapon illegally are either a) not going to bring it into a county building or b) bring the weapon with them and not bother with the security. If a person wanted to cause trouble they could walk in the front door and cut a swath through the people waiting, the Rent-A-Cops and then, into the building.

So, as I'm standing out in the cold waiting for the line to move all I can think of is how much money is wasted on the illusion of security. If someone wants to cause trouble no amount of metal detectors and Rent-A-Cops are going to stop them, all they do is make the sheep feel better.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

How do you say Birthday in Judo?

My Judo club, the Bushido Kai Judo Club has a birthday tradition. It comes in two flavors.

One, if your a black belt you get to throw everyone in class once. Not bad eh?

However, if your not a black belt, and I certainly am not, you get thrown by everyone in class once. Trust me, it's much less fun.

Ok, I'm not being entirely honest, it's good clean fun. But when you are staring at a line of thirty some people you start to reconsider if this was such a good idea.

Well, I got through the birthday "celebration" intact. I was tired, sore and like a fool had not properly hydrated but I got through it.

Frankly, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

Monday, October 13, 2008

One score and four years ago....

I was born.

Yes, today is my birthday. It seems odd to talk about myself, yet I guess that is the entire purpose of a blog. To talk about ones self and ones ideas.

It's been a good birthday, fairly quiet, work, Judo, and if all goes well a pot roast tonight.

My parents got me a few pairs of jeans, paid for the Altamont Irish Fest tickets, and footed the bill for a new gi, which I have needed for weeks now.

The Missus got me footed pajamas! Yes, they make footed pajamas in my size, to say that I was thrilled is an understatement. I was tickled pink. She continued the spree of thoughtful and useful gifts with a Cd to tape converter, pair of goggles and swim cap for our, hopefully soon to be, bi-weekly swims. Lastly, a Twisted Whiskers calendar which I guess has become a sort of tradition.

Yesterday the parents took the Missus and I apple picking, and out to a passable dinner at Coleman's Irish Pub. I wanted to go to Kitty Hoynes but they are closed on Sunday. A loss for all I assure you.

If your a fan of good Irish pub food and ever happen to wander through Syracuse I would heartily recommend Kitty Hoynes. Coleman's is good, but it lacks a certain ambiance.

Well, on to next year!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cyberspace, The Final Frontier!

I'm taking a course on Computer Crime.

Last class the professor, though such a title is a stretch, showed an episode of Frontline detailing the dangers of youth on the Internet, the big, scary, Internet.

The special touched on cyber predation as well as cyber bullying, the dangers of a large amount of personal information freely available in cyberspace as well as the escapism teens are finding in cyberspace.

..... duh.

I'm sorry, maybe it's just me, maybe I'm just jaded having grown up as a member of the "Entitlement Generation" up to my eyebrows in technology but for the love of god how is this a shock to anyone?

Parents, refuse to actively participate in the raising of their children, their children naturally seek a social network for support, as they find the cyber domain to be as comfortable, if not more so, then real space they are obviously going to move into the cyber realm. Is this what scares parents? Or is it the parents technical incompetence? Should the fact that parents simply can not, will not, choose to not supervise their child's activities online result in punishment of the child? Is MySpace now going to have to report to every parent when their thirteen year old daughter is dancing in front of a web cam?

How can they be so oblivious? How can parents of teens in this day and age not know? How can a parent be surprised at finding scantily clad pictures of their daughter online when by the age of thirteen she has most likely had one or more sexual partners? How can traditional values and norms ever hope to be applied to a generation that simply does not exist in the same space as previous generations?

Cyberspace is the new rock and roll, the excesses of rock are merely finding a new home in cyberspace, the escapes most of the last generation found in concerts and music my generation finds in MySpace, it makes even less sense to fight it then fighting rock and roll did for our grandparents.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obfuscating Cyberspace?

I was asked a question on my Computer Crime midterm. "Why would we want to keep certain aspects of cyberspace "dark" or "hidden" for effective crime control?"

The obvious answer is that we would not. It seems obvious that any obfuscation of cyberspace is not only impossible but would be counter productive as networking is based on known, standardized, common protocols. In fact the only reason most of our proprietary hardware even talks to each other is that we have standard protocols. HTTP, XML and SOAP come to mind. So my professor who is teaching a course on computer crime yet is so technologically stunted to not understand that the question she is asking for a midterm is ridiculous to the point of being laughable.

Now, I'll be honest. I threw together a bull shit answer that hopefully will make her happy but what upsets me is that I have to bull shit an answer. She mandated a one page response to this question so I could not get away with "It's not possible, your an idiot" that and I doubt she would have graded me too fondly with such a response.

It's just upsetting that as a technical institution like R.I.T. there are professors this technologically incompetent.

The Shape of Things

Current Weight: 298lbs.

Target Weight: 220lbs.

Weight to loose: 78lbs.

% of body mass to loose: ~26%

So, given the above data, if all goes well I will be walking around at ~5% body fat, at a fantastic competition weight.

Now, dropping almost 80lbs of mass is not going to be easy, so my intermediate goals are as follows:

November 1st: 290lbs.
December 1st: 280lbs.
June 1st: 220lbs.

8 months, 8olbs, 10lbs/month.

Better get running!

Back in the Saddle Again

On this past Monday night I returned to Bushido Kai Judo Club. It's not a big deal, I had only been out a week, maybe week and a half but it still felt good going back.

I enjoy Judo, and how I came to practice is an interesting story in and of itself.

I began my martial journey at a young age, strip mall Karate. Not a bad school, not great, but I lacked the understanding of what I was doing, add to that I did not enjoy Kata, preferring to spar. However, at this point it did not tip me off that maybe I should be looking elsewhere....

Some years later I had the good fortune of meeting up with a gentleman while attending Onondaga Community College, Tony introduced me to Kung-Fu. With that prompting and a renewed interest in the martial arts I began looking for a Kung-Fu school. In Syracuse that left me with two options. Syracuse Wing Chun, and Syracuse Kung-Fu. I chose Syracue Wing Chun almost arbitrarilly. Two and a half years later, my training having been sporadic, I came to the same conclusion that I had come to in Karate all those years previous. I hated forms, I needed to be sparring. I began looking elsewhere in Syracuse, eventually finding a Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu school in Liverpool. Shortly there after, I had a falling out with Syracuse Martial Arts and left for greener pastures.

I spent a few months with Ken Kronenburg at Tai Kai Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu. Finally I had found something that fit, the training was hard, I felt good about what I was learning and we sparred, alot. I would still be with him except I had to return to Rochester for school, and decided to stay in Rochester.

This brings me to Bushido Kai. There are several Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu schools is Rochester. However, Bushido Kai being a not for profit club the training is incredibly cheap. Given a strained budget and a desire to keep training in an alive manner Judo seemed the best option. With a year under my belt, I've never regretted the decision. Though, with a full time job on the horizon maybe I'll pay a visit to one of the local Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu schools.... only time will tell.

Famine to Feasting, Part II

As of yesterday, October 6th I have one job offer, the potential of a second and a second interview with a third company.

Currently I like Gleason the most, I like the idea of writing control software, of working with huge powerful machines. Just seems like fun. However, Info Directions is the only actual offer I have. So, if Gleason does not come through with an offer then guess they are out of the running. Lastly, I have BlueTie a Java software shop. BlueTie is looking for a second interview and frankly are last of the three. It's not that they are a bad company I'm just not thrilled with the idea of writing Java full time. I'm in need of a change of scenery.

Monday, October 6, 2008

It Just Isn't Fair

When I work out, I'm sore, tired, occasionally injured. But I feel fantastic.

When I take a week and a half off, I'm sore, tired, and uninjured but I feel like crap.

It's just not fair.

Reshaping Myself

I've always been heavy. Husky is what they called it when I was younger. A politically correct term for a big gut and short legs. Now, I'm just heavy.

My diet is good, the fiancee has to eat no/low sodium so my blood pressure is really low, and my diet consists of a large amount of vegetables. Not that I mind. However, I am still heavy.

I train in Judo, I have taken a week and a half off due to having too much to do and too little time. My club, Bushido Kai Judo, is a decent sized not for profit Judo club in Penfield N.Y. a suburb of Rochester.

On top of my Judo training I've been using the Stronglifts 5x5 weight training program to help build muscle and loose weight.

Still, I am heavy.

So, the plan.

- Judo 3xWeek
- Stronglifts T/Th/Su

As far this is what I have been doing. Notice anything missing?

As a new addition in the battle against my waistline I'm going to start running with the missus. Either a H.I.I.T. style workout or slow-go cardio. Once I decide I'm going to weigh myself, set goals, and go to it.

Here's to hoping!

And no, round is not a shape.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On Service

I'm not well off. I'm hardly poor, but I'm in no way rich. However, I still like to go out and be served a meal.


Because, I don't have to cook, clean or worry about having food in the fridge. I occasionally want someone else to take care of these details for me. My preferred haunt is GITSIS (git-sees) a little 24/7 diner on Monroe Ave. in Rochester. I like it because the food is good, the service dependable and the prices cheap.

However, when I went out for a meal this past week I left a $0.01 tip for the first time in my life, and whats more I left it as a credit card tip so there was no way the server would think it was a mistake.

Now, I have worked in a variety of restaurants for years, and I like to think I'm easy to please. Take my order in a timely fashion and keep my coffee cup full. That's more or less the extent of the required service and when I'm happy, I tip 20%

I'm not going to go into the details of the evening, suffice to say the server did not meet my basic two requirements. This is made all the more frustrating because I expect so little. It's just upsetting. I go out, spend money and am expected to tip. Yet when the service is bad and the tip is small the server blames the customer as being cheap as opposed to accepting that she may not have done her job.

If I were to write a piece of software for a customer that did not meet his basic needs I would not be paid. Is the customer cheap? No, I did not do my job.

I just wanted a cup of coffee, and a slice of pie, in a timely fashion.

That's all.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A Large 31, an Apple Fritter, and a 12-Grain Omega Bagel later.

I've decided that coming into work early isn't so bad. Especially when you then get to leave really early. I usually work at 8am to 4pm shift, ignoring lunch, in favor of getting home to the missus as quick as possible.

Today is a 5:30am to 1:30pm. After work I have another interview, then after that I plan on scampering home, and getting ready for the weekend:

Weekend Plans!
The missus is working at IHOP (International House of Pancakes) from 8pm to 6am Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday. Between those shifts she plans on sleeping and I plan on writing a midterm. I also have a midterm to study for. Then, on Sunday we have a cake tasting appointment. It's our second and it's with a very fancy bakery. The Purple Hippo I'm sure I will end up detailing wedding plans soon. Give it time.

I can not wait for this to all be over. By this, I mean school. Not cake tasting. Cake tasting, is amazing.

P.S. A "31" is coffee speak for three creams one sugar.... in case you were wondering. I know you were, it's ok. I won't tell.

It Is Too Damn Early

It's 5:47am. I got in to work just about seventeen minutes ago.

Why am I in work at this ungodly hour? Because I have an interview at 2:00pm, and wanted to make sure I worked a full day prior to it.

I'm running on four hours of sleep and no coffee.

I've always had a theory that nothing worth doing happens before 8am. This theory holds true.

I hate getting up early. I am now going to grab a quick cup of coffee and prepare for the weekend, the glorious sleep deprived weekend.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It Has Begun...

I got my first full time job offer today.

Info Directions, a software company that makes billing software for small to medium size telemarketing companies.

$50,000 + benefits to start.

I'm still calm, it hasn't sunk in yet. I think I deserve a beer tonight.

On the Value of Trees

Where I go to school, the Rochester Institute of Technology, has it's own brick. Yes, they patented their own brick and build EVERYTHING out of it. This entire campus is an un-ending slew of red brick. However, almost in spite of the colleges best efforts little clumps of green existed. One of these, located right next to the main Computer Science building contained a little playground and a few picnic tables. Nothing amazing, but it was nice on a hot day.

Then.... Progress!

Or, not.

This little stand of green, rebelling against the un-ending expanse of red baked brick is gone. In it's place stands the new "Administration Building & Innovation Center" a edifice of glass and concrete, not a brick in sight, and oddly enough shaped like a toilet.

Nobody likes it, the students don't like it, the faculty don't like it, I don't like it. Yet it's being built. That little stand of trees is gone, as is the play ground and the picnic tables. One more building, one more edifice to "progress" yet I can't help but feel that the trees were a better choice.

Oh well.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

From Famine to Feasting

There is a certain irony of going from looking for internships and literally begging on bended knee to barely having the time to get to all your interviews.

My first career fair I handed out twenty-five resumes and got no response. I ended up getting my first job through a online job board. It sucked.

However, once that first job was on my resume things got easier yet my GPA, being less then a 3.0 was an inhibiting factor. Now that graduation nears I find myself beating off employers with a stick. Not that I'm complaining.

Let's just hope I don't choke on my new found bounty.